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Virginia Tech awarded grant to study behavioral adaptation during disruptive events affecting power and transportation

November 23, 2016

Pamela Murray-Tuite headshot

Head shot of Pamela Murray-Tuite
Pamela Murray-Tuite

Employees unable to commute because of transportation disruptions may find that they can work remotely if power is available. This scenario is one example of behavioral adaptation with potential to improve the efficiency of a post-disaster return to productive daily life. 

Pamela Murray-Tuite, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering in the National Capital Region, will lead a multidisciplinary collaborative research team to look at this kind of behavioral adaptation. The project, Coordinated, Behaviorally-Aware Recovery for Transportation and Power Disruptions, has been granted a Critical Resilient Interdependent Infrastructure Systems and Processes (CRISP) Award from the National Science Foundation.

The team includes Ed Fox, professor of computer science; Kris Wernstedt, associate professor of urban affairs and planning in the School of Public and International Affairs in the National Capital Region; and Seth Guikema, associate professor of industrial and operations engineering at the University of Michigan.

Team members will develop improved methods for collecting, analyzing, and archiving tweets and webpages – integrated with data collected from official or specialized sources – to better understand the interplay of behavior and power and transportation infrastructures in disruptions.

“We hope to learn how the nature of information about infrastructure disruptions and the way in which individuals process this information shapes their responses to disruptions and preferred tradeoffs" said Murray-Tuite. "Our project will help utilities and agencies develop recovery strategies that coordinate among the infrastructures and account for adaptation,”

“Understanding adaptive behaviors and their dependence on different infrastructures and coordinating recovery across infrastructures can help households return to productive activities faster,” she continued.

The team will convey research results through practitioner-oriented seminars held with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, state emergency management agencies, transportation authorities, and electric power utilities. 

The CRISP award will also impact related outreach programs. This includes developing activities for  Virginia Tech’s Imagination summer camp sponsored by the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity and supporting the University of Michigan’s Detroit-Area Pre-College Engineering Program.

“Not only do we want to broaden the research participation of underrepresented groups but we also hope to attract new students to these respective fields of study,” said Murray-Tuite.  

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